La Jolla Permitters meeting packed for ‘Showdown at Bird Rock Corral’


The room was full for a showdown at the La Jolla Development Permit Review (DPR) Committee’s Aug. 14 meeting. The posted final review for a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) to construct a mixed-use building at 5785 La Jolla Blvd. possessed unusual gravity due to the project’s location: As the first structure that will be seen by motorists entering Bird Rock’s main drag from the north, it would become the community’s new gateway.

But the project’s radical redesign pleased most committee members, robbing the protest of its steam before the public was allowed to comment. The previous complaints it addressed include adding a 600-square-foot onsite loading zone, removing roof decks and facing the residential units away from La Jolla Boulevard. (They’ll have Camino de La Costa addresses.)

Presenter David Keitel told committee members the owner was “really put off by the comments” made during DPR’s Dec. 19, 2017 meeting — so much so that his design team was hired to replace architect Patrick Banning’s.

Calling it “beautiful,” committee member Mike Costello applauded the new design.

“It was not easy,” Keitel replied. “It was a challenge to do all this work.”

However, the redesign did not address Bird Rock’s shortage of street parking. In fact, according to the gathered residents, it will only compound it.

“There still is not enough parking for four retail units there,” said neighbor Philomene Offen. “There are three spaces, which means that everyone’s going to be parking in front of our houses. And that’s a big issue. For the person creating this, it’s not a problem, but for us, it is.”

Keitel replied that he was only following code, “what the City allows,” then suggested that residents and visitors walk or bike more to get around. The negative commotion stoked by this comment drew a reprimand from DPR chair Brian Will.

“Someday, we’re going to have to warm up to the idea that we’re going to have to use our feet and walk,” Will said. “We need density to support this community.”

Another issue raised was a traffic choke point across from the proposed structure, on the south side of Camino de la Costa between the alley and La Jolla Hermosa Avenue. Costello said that the owner could correct this problem simply by red-striping the curb on his project’s Camino de la Costa side.

Will, who objected to tasking owners with solving problems their projects don’t cause, floated a motion that findings could be made. It was not seconded, however, and Keitel was asked to request the red curb from a City traffic engineer. (Several days later, neighbors asked DPR to rescind that request.)

Also at DPR

Presenter Mark Lyon received the meeting’s only positive vote, to approve a Process 2 Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for a lot-line adjustment at 7224 Carrizo Drive. He explained that noted architect Fred Liebhardt, who lived in the house until his 1999 death, “got a little carried away with building his house,” causing a non-conforming property line to require correction before two adjoining lots could legally be sold by the heirs of the family. No development is sought at this time.

DPR voted unanimously to make the preliminary review final, and then unanimously again in favor of the CDP.

For the meeting’s final review, architect Michael Morton got into it with committee members while requesting a CDP to remodel a two-story single-family dwelling at 5251 Chelsea St. Built in the ‘50s, the house has not been redone snce the ‘80s.DPR member Matthew Welsh went as far as calling Morton’s design “just a box with things put on the side,” to which Morton replied that yes, it’s a rectangular, “but there are cutouts within this box to provide articulation.”“The Community Plan says there should be a natural transition,” Costello objected, explaining that the design appeared out of step with surrounding homes, “but it doesn’t say that your house will force the transition.”Within 20 years, Morton said, “all mid-century La Jolla homes will be replaced.”“They were nice homes for their era,” Morton elaborated. “I’m just saying that as time goes by, the desire for homes of a larger size is a natural progression of what is happening.”Will again kept his committee in line, noting that the Community Plan refers to transition “in bulk and scale, but not matching architectural styles.”

“He doesn’t need to defend the architectural style,” Will said.

Morton was instructed to return with more detailed renderings and to clean up the house’s massing.— DPR next meets 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St.